Hey­ward sits out in protest

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS - BY RUS­SELL DORSEY, STAFF REPORTER rdorsey@sun­times.com | @Russ_Dorsey1

Right fielder Ja­son Hey­ward didn’t know what he was go­ing to do be­fore the Cubs took the field against the Tigers on Wed­nes­day in Detroit, but he knew he had to do some­thing.

Hey­ward made the de­ci­sion to pull him­self out of the lineup be­fore the Cubs’ 7-6 loss.

“It wasn’t some­thing I was pre­pared for at all,” Hey­ward said.

Hey­ward had dis­cus­sions with play­ers around MLB, in­clud­ing Dodgers out­fielder Mookie Betts, who shared his plans with Hey­ward be­fore the game. Once play­ers be­gan to see what was hap­pen­ing in the NBA, that’s when things be­gan to move.

Hey­ward’s de­ci­sion came af­ter a dis­cus­sion with man­ager David Ross, who called him into his of­fice be­fore the game to see what he wanted to do. That meet­ing led to a larger meet­ing, where Hey­ward spoke to the team about his plans.

“There was dis­cus­sion, and there were mul­ti­ple guys say­ing they weren’t com­fort­able go­ing out there and play­ing if I wasn’t gonna go out there,” Hey­ward said. “They didn’t want to leave me hang­ing. I let them know, en­cour­aged them, ‘No, go play the game. I don’t think the game should be can­celed. But I think I have to do what I have to do.’ That’s an­other rea­son that I was out there in the dugout sup­port­ing them be­cause they sup­port me ev­ery sin­gle day through this

“I told the guys, I will stand by all you guys with what­ever we de­cide,” Ross said. “And sup­port­ing Ja­son is No. 1, and he wanted us to play, and so that’s what we did.”

The de­ci­sion came as play­ers around MLB and other ma­jor sports leagues de­cided to boy­cott games in protest of the po­lice shoot­ing of 29-year-old Ja­cob Blake.

Blake, a Black man, was shot seven times by a po­lice of­fi­cer in Kenosha, Wis­con­sin, on Sun­day as he at­tempted to en­ter his ve­hi­cle with his chil­dren in­side.

“There’s a lot of com­mon sense in this world that we don’t use,” first base­man An­thony Rizzo said. “To shoot a guy in the back like that doesn’t make any sense to me.”

“We’re fam­ily,” start­ing pitcher Jon Lester said. ‘‘When­ever a fam­ily mem­ber isn’t feel­ing good or down or up­set, you know, we all have each other’s back. And we’re all here for each other.”

The Brew­ers-Reds, Mariners-Padres and Dodgers-Gi­ants games were post­poned as the teams agreed not to play.

The Cubs gave Hey­ward the free­dom to do what he felt he needed to do and to ul­ti­mately be the guide for the club. While his de­ci­sion was not planned, he felt it was his re­spon­si­bil­ity to be about ac­tion in a sport that his­tor­i­cally has been slow to re­act.

“I felt that I needed to be a part of what’s go­ing on,” Hey­ward said. “I say that be­cause we made these state­ments to­gether in the Play­ers Al­liance, as play­ers in MLB, that it’s time for us to stand up and be a part of the cause and not just sweep it un­der the rug. And if we just went out there and played tonight and ig­nored what the NBA was do­ing and ig­nor­ing what’s hap­pen­ing right now, then I feel like that would be go­ing back on our word.”

PAUL SANCYA/AP

Cubs starter Jon Lester al­lowed one run and eight hits in five in­nings Wed­nes­day against the Tigers.

Ja­son Hey­ward

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